Oct 23

Did Mets Fix Daisuke Matsuzaka Only To Lose Him?

Even knowing that the New York Mets would not have Matt Harvey next season, there was a slight glimmer of optimism they might have enough to piece together a rotation and spend elsewhere.

That glimmer is fading.

MATSUZAKA: Will he walk away?

MATSUZAKA: Will he walk away?

Pitching coach Dan Warthen fixed Daisuke Matsuzaka’s long and cumbersome delivery, complete with a hitch. With a faster delivery, Matsuzaka showed he could be the real deal. After a rocky first two starts, Matsuzaka settled in to become one of the Mets’ most reliable starters in September. Matsuzaka finished at 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA in seven starts with the Mets. His fastball returned with bite as evidenced by his 33-16 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He averaged just under eight strikeouts per nine innings.

The Mets were interested when Matsuzaka came out of Japan, but didn’t come close to matching Boston with the qualifying negotiating offer to his Japanese team.

Matsuzaka earned $1.5 million this season from the Mets, who picked him up after Cleveland released him at the end of spring training.

The Mets also signed innings-eater Aaron Harang, Sept. 1, after his release from Seattle. Harang, who has also pitched for Cincinnati, San Diego and the Dodgers, is a reliable workhorse. From 2004 through this season, Harang has pitched less than 150 innings only twice, including this year when he worked a combined 143.1 innings with the Mariners and Mets.

Harang gave the Mets six innings in three of his four starts, and five in the other. He was 0-1 with a representative 3.52 ERA, but struck out 26 in 23 innings. However, he did give up five homers.

What Harang and Matsuzaka did was log enough innings to conserve the bullpen and prevent the Mets from unraveling the last month of the season.

What Harang and Matsuzaka also did was impressive to enough scouts to where somebody will make them an offer to pry them away if the Mets go low-ball. The last thing a journeyman pitcher wants to do is not leave an impression in September.

This would not be something new to the Mets, as both Chris Capuano and Chris Young proved enough in their Flushing auditions for another team to take them away.

They aren’t the only ones.

Carlos Torres, who previously pitched in Japan, Colorado and with the Chicago White Sox, was an asset as a spot starter, long reliever and situational reliever this season. In 33 games with the Mets, nine of which were starts, Torres was 4-6 with a 3.44 ERA.

He pitched 86.1 innings, which isn’t bad considering he wasn’t on their radar in spring training. He struck out 75 and walked just 17 with a career-best 1.112 WHIP.

Torres, who made $415,000 this season, will leave if the Mets don’t tender him a contract.

So, that feeling of holding the fort until Rafael Montero is ready, and to a larger extent, until 2015, is giving way to a sense the Mets might have done it again and fixed several pitchers to where somebody else will take them away from them.

 

Jun 28

Kirk Nieuwenhuis Could Be Out When Jason Bay Returns

Kirk Nieuwenhuis is in the midst of a horrid 3-for-26 slump, looking so bad he sat yesterday against a right-hander. He’s likely to sit again tonight against lefty Chris Capuano.

Nieuwenhuis is striking out in 33 percent of his at-bats (once every three), and has 15 since June 15.

Terry Collins is careful not to quash Nieuwenhuis’ confidence, saying he’s giving him a mental breather. However, one can’t help but wonder when that breather will turn into “the need to play everyday.”

If we see Nieuwenhuis sitting more and more, don’t be surprised if he’s sent down to play every day when Jason Bay returns.

Dec 07

Are the Mets any better?

I’ve been scanning some of the other blogs and was surprised some believe the Mets are better now than they were at the end of the season.

How?

Make no mistake, I always thought Jose Reyes would leave, but until they add quality from their savings, I just don’t see where you can make the argument the team is better without him.

They’ve lost the NL batting champion and replaced him with Ruben Tejada. I like Tejada’s potential, but it isn’t proven production. So, there is a downgrade at shortstop.

Gone from the rotation is Chris Capuano, replaced by …. you tell me. I’m not buying into Johan Santana until I see him pitch regularly.

Angel Pagan and Andres Torres are essentially the same player. Torres is better defensively, and the improvement is in shedding Pagan’s sometimes lackadaisical attitude. That’s not saying the Mets won this trade.

The Mets added two pitchers to their bullpen with strikeout capabilities, but you have to ask yourself if they were so good why would they have been available? I’m seeing it as exchanging one set of mediocre arms for another.

The Mets still have questions in their rotation, bullpen, first base, catcher, second base, left field and right field.

Other than shedding payroll for the promise of doing something later, I don’t see where they’ve gotten any better.

 

ON DECK (Today): The market for David Wright.

 

Nov 10

2011 Player Review: Chris Capuano

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at Chris Capuano. Tomorrow: Jason Isringhausen.

Chris Capuano

THE SKINNY: Desperate teams take desperate measures, which is why last winter the pitching-thin Mets signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a free-agent contract. Coming off arm problems, the Mets took a $1.5 million gamble on the career 57-64 record, including 11-12 this season. The gamble paid off and Capuano stayed healthy and now wants two years. The Mets aren’t interested.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: He gave the Mets 34 starts and 186 innings and those will be hard to replace. … The Mets’ rotation is thin and lefthanders are hard to come by.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: He’s only had one winning season and that was in 2005. … He has an injury history and a career losing record. … The Mets got lucky last year. Will they do so again?

JOHN’S TAKE: Capuano gave the Mets more than they could have expected. I’d give Capuano one year or one plus an option, but would consider two because the Mets aren’t loaded with options.
The Mets have limited depth in their rotation and little immediate sources for improvement and can’t afford to discard pitchers who have been productive for them.

We know the Mets are deeper in a rebuilding plan then they are willing to admit, and if Capuano could remain healthy he could be an innings bridge until some of their younger pitchers are ready.

JOE’S TAKE: Let me begin by saying that Chris Capuano delivered one the finest pitching performances of the 2011 season when he hurled a complete game shutout against the Atlanta Braves on August 26. His 13 strikeouts were a career high and he faced just one batter over the minimum. Remarkable.

That said, as much as I loved that memorable moment, I would have to take a pass on Capuano based on two things. First, is his 1.35 WHIP and 4.55 weren’t reason enough, what about his road splits of a 5.42 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP? I mean come on, that’s absolutely brutal and how do you think that will translate in a smaller Citi Field which was just changed to aid right-handed hitters who teed off on Capuano to the tune of an .818 OPS? How you like me now?

Second, Capuano is now seeking a multi-year deal. No need to expand further on this, right?

Sorry Cap, but thanks for the memories…

Nov 08

Mets have been fair with Reyes.

To those who believe the Mets haven’t been fair with Jose Reyes, I beg to differ. Reyes is coming off a five-year, $33.75 million contract. Five years ago, when the Mets’ playoff window seemed wide open, they signed cornerstones Reyes and David Wright to long-term deals at a time in their careers when they didn’t have to.

The Mets did so because Reyes was starting to raise a family and was concerned about money. The Mets weren’t being totally altruistic because their belief was Reyes was becoming an impact player and wanted to avoid arbitration and put off free agency.

Signing them young is usually a good move, but in retrospect with Reyes, the case could be made they paid him for three injury-riddled years. Even so, the market has dramatically grown more expensive the past five years, so the reverse is true that the deal might have kept Reyes from getting more.

So, it’s a gamble by each side.

This time, there would be more of a gamble by the Mets because of Reyes’ recent injury history. With Reyes seeking nearly triple of his last deal, that’s a lot of money earmarked for a player with a propensity for breaking down.

While it is true that nobody can realistically expect Reyes to give the Mets a hometown discount and leave money and years on the table, so is the reverse in that how can one expect the team to give extra years and dollars to a player who may not be healthy during his contract?

The wild card in any contract is an injury, and that is the case with Chris Capuano. The Mets took a gamble on Capuano last winter when they signed the left-hander off an injury. The Mets were rewarded when Capuano proved healthy and received a solid season. Now, Capuano wants two years, something the Mets aren’t willing to do.